A year ago I told my very good friend Blaize (INSPIREBYNATURE), who I met here on Spark almost 3 yrs. ago, and who has been my partner on the Sunny Gals team for the past 2+ yrs., that I wanted to run a half marathon. Not just any half marathon, but a half marathon in Disney.
Back when I started running, about 3 yrs. ago, it was a dream of mine to run a 5k at Disney. I had never been to Disney, and it felt like a good goal. But after meeting Blaize, and for those of you who know her, you know what I am talking about, she makes you feel like bigger, better things are possible. In fact, when we first met online, one of the first pictures I saw of her was after she ran her own first half marathon, and I started to dream BIGGER.
So when I told her my plan, it should have been of no surprise to me at all that she said, immediately, without any hesitation (I love this girl), "I'll run it with you."
It was such a wonderful thing, such an offering up of herself, her time, well, everything. To tell someone you will run a half marathon with them is almost like getting engaged. Well, ok, not exactly, but you know what I mean. It's a commitment.
So throughout this year we had big training plans. And those plans, for both of us, fell a little short due to illness, life changes, and huge events beyond our control. Speaking for myself I had the flu 2 weeks prior, and that was followed by a terrible ear infection and two ruptured ears as a consequence. It was not the ideal conditions, and I wasn't able to go on my last two long runs. The furthest I had run was 10 miles, and that was about a month before the half.
Blaize's plan was to walk/run it, and mine was to run as much of it as I could.
But first, we had to meet!
We met at the expo, me with my family in tow (my 2 daughters, ages 3 and 6), and her with her mom and her 5 year old daughter.
Blaize and I after we first met!
Our daughters after meeting (new BFFs!) (My daughter Lucy on the left, Azali on the right)
At the expo we shopped, I lost my daughter for 10 scary minutes, and I think we were all ready to go back to the hotel to relax before dinner. For dinner we walked to Downtown Disney, but the Rainforest Cafe had a 3 hr. wait, so we had our pre-race dinner at Denny's. Hey, it wasn't that bad :) And we chose food that wasn't too fatty and had a good balance of carb/protein.
Then we went to bed by 10 PM, having an early morning wakeup call. The race had a 5 AM start, and we had to be in our corral by 4:30 AM, so we made plans to meet in Blaize's hotel room at 3:15 AM to give us time to eat a healthy breakfast of bread, natural peanut butter and a banana and then walk to the corral.
Us at 3:15 AM before the race!
Before the race
We both wore Sparkle Skirts, it was a gift from Blaize, she knew I wanted to wear a green one (thank you honey!) and of course we had to have Princess Bondi Bands, too. We looked super cute.
As we stood in the corral I was a ball of nerves. I was so nervous, I don't think I had ever been this nervous before the race. I didn't know what to expect, and the two weeks before the race being sick really rattled my confidence.
I had prepared some mantras the night before to help me in my run.
"God is Able." - I actually heard someone sing this on American Idol recently and it really stuck in my head. Where I am weak, He is strong.
"All Things are Possible Through Christ." - this is my favorite, and is even inscribed on my running ID bracelet.
Lastly, I read this one on the plane over to CA and I tore it out because I knew it was meant for me during this race.: "The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exhalt him." (Exodus 15:2)
My strength and my song. I loved that. I would praise him, even when it got hard for me. I would put my focus there, and hand that pain over to Him.
Soon it was our turn to go. Corral D stood for "Dreams Come True", and it couldn't have been more appropriate. I met one of my best friends for the first time after 3 yrs. of friendship, and we were doing something amazing together. I was running my first half marathon! I would have never thought I was capable of this.
During the Star Spangled Banner Disney lit fireworks off, and it was so breathtaking. I teared up. I was sharing this moment with Blaize, it was so surreal.
And we were off! The first 4.5 miles were through Disney, so it was nice scenery. We ran through Cars Land, past the castle, it was so cool.
Here's the most miraculous part. Blaize and I ran the entire first nine miles together!! She figured maybe 1-2 miles, and I was looking forward to running as much as we could together, but I didn't think it would be nine miles. I am so extremely proud of her. I don't recall exactly what her longest run was in her training, but I believe it was 6 miles. I know she was planning on walking much of the race, but she ran almost the whole thing! I had to take two bathroom breaks, and we walked through some of the water stations and along the course if we needed to. But at Mile 9 is when things got really hard for me. I knew that if I walked any more I would not finish running, and my goal was to run as much as I could. It was do or die. Blaize and I had agreed earlier that whenever I needed to go ahead that was fine, so I told her I needed to keep running and we agreed to try to meet up with again, and I had texts on my phone with her progress, so I would know where she was so we could meet up.
Little did I know that she would finish only 3 minutes behind me! She is just so amazing. She does not give up, and I have to tell you that her perseverance has truly changed me as a person, and as an athlete.
I finished at 2:58:54, which I am very proud of. It's funny, I got texts when Blaize hit mile markers, and so when my phone kept vibrating every mile we passed I thought someone was tracking me and it encouraged me, but it was me tracking Blaize! I didn't realize that until after the race ended, so it was like I had an imaginary cheering section, it helped me though :))
Almost to the finish line!
Me about to cross the finish line, waving to my kids after giving Minnie Mouse a high five.
A cheering sign my daughter Lucy made.
Right after finishing, and getting my "wings" medal.
Blaize and I with our medals!!! She finished in 3:01, woo hoo!!
After the race we went to the pool to relax.
And then we did something crazy - we went to Disney and walked a TON of steps. I think we logged over 30 miles on that day.
(We also had some margaritas)
And the next day? Yep. We went to Disney.
Like Walt Disney said, it's fun to do the impossible. I never, ever thought I would be a runner. I started walking, and then began the Couch to 5k program, and gradually after 5ks did an 8k, then a 10k, then a 15k, and now a half marathon. If I can do it, so can YOU!
Blaize, I'm glad I got to share this with you. Love you!
Us with our little Princesses. Just think what a good example we are setting for them!!